An affectionate but meticulously researched history of one of the most beautiful and best-loved corners of England – Crosthwaite Parish, nestling deep within the mountains and valleys of the Lake District.
Bounded by the peaks of Scafell, Skiddaw and Helvellyn, and embracing such well-known landmarks as Borrowdale, Derwentwater and Keswick town, the rugged landscape of Crosthwaite Parish excites passion in all those who know and love it.
Crosthwaite Parish also boasts a remarkable history. Its 90 square miles were governed, from medieval times, by 18 annually chosen 'customary tenants'. After the opening up of Lakeland in the late 18th century, Crosthwaite was at the centre of the landscape that intoxicated the Lake Poets, but in the 19th century, the Victorian state killed off the old parish system, sweeping away the benign rule of the 18 Men. A degree of redemption was at hand, however: Canon Rawnsley, vicar of Crosthwaite from 1883, pledged to defend the Lake District for future generations. Thus did Crosthwaite become the crucible of the National Trust and blazed a trail for a wider movement to preserve the English landscape.
Writing with a historian's rigour allied to a deep love of Lakeland, Philippa Harrison has produced a magisterial and fascinating record of a parish with a unique social, cultural and aesthetic resonance in English history.